These CNC Prototypes Were 3-D Mapped From Natural Forms

These CNC Prototypes Were 3-D Mapped From Natural Forms
Ishi Kiri / Fasetto. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Anoma, headed by EDIDA-winning Indian artist Ruchika Grover, is a product design studio that explores the potential of natural stone. Its surfaces, sculptures, and installations, are created through a unique process, which combines digital manufacturing and traditional hand craftsmanship.

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Proceso de Fabricación. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Grover usually begins by illustrating rough concepts on paper. She is continually inspired by natural forms and textures which manifest strongly in Anoma’s work. For example, the studio’s Foliage collection of surfaces highlights the often overlooked vein patterns on leaves. During its conceptualization, six species of plants were shortlisted – the Bodhi, the Maple, the Monstera, the Birch, the Elm, and the Lily – and samples of their leaves were three-dimensionally mapped in the studio. Next, informed by extensive botanical studies, Grover interpreted the natural vein networks into subtle patterns, sizably scaling them up in order to bring them into focus.

Foliage / Maple. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Once the two-dimensional drawing takes shape, the process moves to computer-aided modeling where precise measurements are determined and intricate details are added; lines are extruded and accorded heights and depths, while edges are beveled. Next, several prototypes are developed over a period of four to six months; a range of patterns (varying depths and sizes), materials (limestone, granite, and marble etc.), and tools are employed in an effort to gauge what works best. This involves dimensions being translated into manufacturing directives and being fed into a Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling machine.

Ishi Kiri / Rokakku. Image Courtesy of Anoma

After the base stone is positioned and clamped in place on the CNC machine bed, a rotating, cylindrical tool performs cutting and drilling operations in accordance with the directives that are fed in. The cutting tool, diamond or carbide-tipped, can move along multiple axes, while the base stone too is often moved across the milling bed in different directions. The milling process generates a lot of heat. Recycled water is, therefore, circulated to regulate the temperature of the cutting tool and the base stone. This helps avoid rapid tool wearing and unwanted thermal expansion of the stone.

The breathing surfaces / Xylem. Image Courtesy of Anoma

The process, however, does not end there: the surfaces are finally finished by hand. Skilled artisans carve intricate textures into the stone using a variety of techniques – chipping, sanding, and shot-blasting. This last step helps add a human touch to a predominantly digitally-fabricated product.

Foliage / Birch. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Most of Anoma’s products can be used both indoors and outdoors to enhance the spatial atmosphere. Its surfaces are available in modular panels measuring 24" x 24" and 24" x 48" in three minimal material choices – Graphite Grey Granite, Crèma Limestone, and Pristine White Marble. The patterns, however, are customizable and can be interpreted to suit specific project requirements: the studio works with architects and designers to create customized installations across a variety of scales and typologies.

Kinetic #07. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Take a look at the manufacturing process in the video below.

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About this author
Cite: Suneet Zishan Langar. "These CNC Prototypes Were 3-D Mapped From Natural Forms" 02 Aug 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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